What Does the Uvula Do?
You've had one all your life, but do you even know what your uvula does?
You might be surprised when you find out how much this little thing actually gets done!
By the end of this article you will no longer be confused about this little fella.
What is a Uvula?
And for those you that don't already know, that little "hangy deal" in the back of your throat is called a palatine uvula, or just uvula for short. It's the little teardrop of tissue that hangs down in the middle of the back of your mouth. It's attached to the soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth) and it can actually move thanks to a muscle in the palate.
You see, there are two parts to the roof of your mouth... The front contains bone and is called the hard palate, but the back doesn't have any bone so it's called the soft palate. It contains muscles and is covered in a lovely mucus membrane. And the uvula is right in the center of this soft, muscly tissue.
The muscle that moves the uvula is called the musculus uvulae; this muscle helps move it around and shape it in different ways. I'm sure most of you have looked into the mirror, with your mouth open, and have made your uvula do a sexy little dance before, but now that you know what it is, let's get into what it does.
What Does the Uvula Do?
So, what exactly does this drop of mystery do, other than make you want to gag when you touch it? Well, some people might try to tell you that there is no use to it, but I don't believe that! In fact, there many uses for you uvula. And if you don't believe me, then you can call all of these things "theories", but let's get into it.
One of the biggest things that the uvula is supposed to take part in is blocking food and liquid that you swallow from going up into your nasal cavity. But, if you've ever laughed while drinking something, then you might realize that sometimes things you eat and drink can come out your nose. ;) But go ahead and try to swallow some saliva while breathing in through your nose, at the same time. You can't do it because the soft palate lifts up when you swallow and presses the uvula against the back of your throat. This seals off the nasal cavity, but as soon as you're done swallowing you'll be able to inhale through your nose.
That's a pretty important function, but the uvula is also said to play a part in our speech. It helps us make certain sounds that may or may not be possible without it. Why do I say that? Because some people have the uvula removed, for one reason or another, and seem to function just fine without it. But at least now you know some of the secrets behind the mysteries of the uvula, and if that wasn't interesting enough, some people actually get their uvula pierced!